Not My Best Work

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This weekend was a perfect 10, weather wise.  Every day was hot, with blue sky and a slight dry wind.  As weekends go, you couldn’t ask for a better one.  The fact that there was a holiday on Monday and I was graced with a half day of work on Friday, well that’s just too good to be true.  However, it turned out to be a suck weekend with only two highlights to speak of.  Saturday and Sunday I was visited by my friends who boated over.  I totally enjoyed their visits and the boat ride we took on the lake.   

My original plan was to attend a birthday party on Saturday night.  I brought all the fixings to make stuffed artichokes for the gala event.  As the weekend unfolded, I never made it to the party, but had indeed prepared the artichokes with heavy heart.  I just wasn’t into it, but had at least planned to deliver then anyway since I had spent all that money on the ingredients.  That didn’t happen either.  The point is, I didn’t put my heart and soul into making them and it showed.  My friends each had one and they said they were good.  However, they were just being polite.  I tried one and I have to say they were awful.  Thank gawd I never delivered them.  Not my best work.

As the weekend wore on, it became clear it was just a waste of beautiful weather for me.  However, that will be the last wasted weekend and the last wasted recipe.  From now on, I will put my heart and soul into every recipe and every weekend, or I just won’t do it… Life is to short not to enjoy it to the fullest. 

 

Summer Kick-Off

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With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, I’m amazed at how fast time flies by.  Summer is essentially here and I have a list of things to do and goals to meet by Summer’s end.  They’re not unachievable, but I will need to stay focussed and aligned to make it all happen.  I can do it.  The projects and goals are prelude to my next endeavor.  I see big things happening in the very near future… Phase II brings lots of changes and hopefully more sleep!  I’m up for the challenge, although I do realize I have to give in order to get.  Giving has never been an issue.  

I’ve been experimenting with my new recipes and they seem like a hit.  I’m going to be trying them out on friends over the weekend and am  planning on adding them to menu if they go over big.  If not, it’s back to the drawing board for me until I hit it right…

I can dream, can’t I?

The Day The Lines Came Down

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Monday morning I woke up with a feeling that today would be the day my 86-year-old neighbor would die.  She’d been hanging on since her stroke four weeks ago and I’d been visiting her regularly in Hospice care.  Every visit she seemed worse than the visit before.  She hung on longer than most, but then again that doesn’t surprise me, she was a strong-willed woman.  A couple of times I even walked my dog over since animals were allowed in the facility.  She was slightly responsive, awake and aware of her surroundings when I first starting visiting.  She remembered meeting Lizzie even though she didn’t remember Lizzie’s name.  She asked about her, which is why I brought her back again on our daily evening walks.  Lizzie of course, just wanted to eat the remnants of food on paper plates left in the trash by visitors.

Yvonne died in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, about 3:15am.  My gut feeling of Monday was a little off, but I could feel her pending death was imminent.  When I saw her Monday night she was taking short, fast gasps of breath.  I found myself trying to breathe for her.  Having a hard time watching this, I cut my visit short and left.  I knew it would be the last time I’d see her alive.  I purposely didn’t visit her the day before, Mother’s Day, because I felt it should be reserved for her family.  Although she passed, she was still ever-present inside of me.  Everyone grieves in their own way and we let go when we’re ready.  Perhaps it was the constant visual reminder of her home and all the memories of her in the yard; but whatever it was, I wasn’t quite ready to let her go.

There has been a lot of activity across the street since she arrived in Hospice care.  I don’t understand why her children are in such a hurry to clean the house out.  There’s a huge dumpster in the driveway that is being loaded everyday with things that she loved, collected and treasured.  It breaks my heart to see it all carelessly strewn about in a reckless manner into a rusty, over-sized dumpster, especially since the dumpster arrived a week before she passed.  The irony is I’ve seen her kids over there more since her pending death, than I ever did living across the street for ten years.

On my way to work every morning, I take a minute and pause at the end of my driveway and stare at her house.  I try to block out the dumpster and look at her meticulous lawn, blooming flowers and trimmed shrubs which I’ve seen her nurture and groom through the years.  Every neighbor around her has some sort of flower, plant or shrub that she insisted on planting in our yards.  I used to joke with her that I saw more of her bum in the air than her face for she was always head down in the dirt planting something here and there all over the neighborhood.

This morning I was stunned to see that her clothes line had been removed.  This was her trademark!  She hung laundry out to dry every single day.  In the winter she would don boots and shovel a path to the clothes lines to hang her laundry.  She was adamant as long as the sun was out, it didn’t matter if it was cold, the clothes would dry.  Now you would think an elderly woman living alone wouldn’t generate a lot of laundry.  Wrong.  Yvonne was involved in the senior club, garden club, church club, quilting club, food pantry and every fundraiser that came up in town.  Every donation was collected and washed by Yvonne before they made it to their respective organizations.  This included kids clothes, stuffed animals, sneakers, boots, quilts, blankets, jackets, fabric, etc.  Everyday there was something different on the lines.  They told quite a story of her latest quest of giving.  When everything was dry, she would fold them up, pack them up, and drop them off.  She was a giver.

The lines coming down hit me the hardest.  Why did they take the lines down?  The house doesn’t look right without the lines, or something hanging on them.  That’s when it hit me, she’s really gone.  No more lines.  How many people’s lives have changed from things hanging on the lines?  So many.

The day the lines came down, I finally looked up and let her go.

Moving A Mountain

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Yesterday was Mother’s Day and my plan was to happily exhaust my mother for the whole day, or until she gave in.  I figured it would be the latter as she doesn’t last too long these days with ailments, weather and physical activity.

I went up to the lake early Saturday morning with three things on my Agenda for the day/night. 1)  Cut the lawn;  2) Finish the fire pit;  3) (I saved the best for last) Entertain friends at my house and christen the new fire pit.  Done, done and double done!  Everything played out quite well with a little time to spare before the evening festivities began.  I don’t prefer to be rushed on the weekends, but sometimes it’s all I’ve got and I’ll take a visit to My Happy Place over anything, even if it’s cut short.  I knew I’d have to leave early the next morning to spend the day with mom; and I knew I’d be totally exhausted in doing so, but it was well worth it and I just ramped up and made it happen.  I cooked enough food for the lake gang, just in case everyone showed up.  I always make enough food for everyone so no one ever feels left out.  I always want people to feel they can come over anytime and always enjoy the dish-of-the-day.  As always, a great time was had by all, even if the crowd was small.  They’re a good-looking couple, so in tune with each other, so tight.  They know each other so well, they know what the other will say before the other even says it.  They still twinkle when they look at each other.  They remind me of another couple at the lake.  So content, so peaceful, so complete, years and years of history in the making.  If you can’t be in it, it’s nice to be around it.

Sunday morning I’m up at 5 taking care of the dogs and last-minute clean up around the yard and house.  We have a 10:00 Mother’s Day brunch reservation and I need to get home, shower, dress, walk the dog and be ready to leave by 9:45.  With every bone in my tired body aching as I move to get out of bed, I am reminded of the day before and pleased that these aches and pains have something to show for it.  I look out my bedroom window to see the new fire pit and instantly grin at the memory of the night before.  Knocked back into reality by the dogs chomping at the bit to go potty, I get up and accommodate them and get their breakfast ready.  Coffee’s on, dogs fed, I start sizing up the house and yard for what needs to be done before I make the mad dash home and start the day… for the second time. I take a few seconds to check out the fire pit before I start putting chairs away, gathering up tennis balls, bottles, collars, leashes and remnants of a day well spent.

I race to meet my ETA of 8:30 and actually get home by 8:32.  Mom is waiting for me in the kitchen all dolled up.  She looked like a princess with jewelry around her neck, wrists, and hands. I made sure to tell her so.  Her outfit was adorable, her hair done up, face made up with her trademark ruby-red lipstick twice the size of her lips.  Most importantly she was smiling.  Not only did she look good, she felt good and it showed.   It was worth the rushing around to get there.  I wished her Happy Mother’s Day with wide open arms and went in for a kiss.  I could see her pull back a little because she was all cleaned up and pretty, and I was… well, not.  I was still carrying the odor of activities of the day and night prior.  My hair was a bird’s nest all piled high, yesterdays makeup was running down my face and I’m sure my rumpled clothes smelling like smoke from last night’s fire was anything but inviting as I went in for the hug.  I stopped short as I sensed her stiffening like a 2 x 4 in preparation of the gesture about to unfold.  I told her she looked pretty and left her to go shower.  Just before I climbed the stairs I glanced back at her in the kitchen… she was glowing and I knew it was going to be a good day.  After my shower I come down to find flowers and cards for mom and I from my son.  A beautiful balloon from his girlfriend adorns the chair and we both get teary eyed from the beautiful collection of cards.  My boy can write.  His words always bring me to tears.

Mom was coming off a tough week.  Our neighbor is dying and she’s only two years older than mom.  It’s a tough lesson in mortality watching your neighbor lie paralyzed in Hospice care.  Of course I bear the brunt of all this.  She hadn’t talked to me most of the week.  The few times I approached her and asked her why she was upset, she gave me a lame reason about the tiny side deck floor not being swept.  I left her alone and just made sure she was OK everyday as I stayed out of her way.  I hate it when she stops talking to me (you’d think I’d love it).  There are days I can see the fear in her face.  Other days I can feel the pain in her body.  I care for mom the best I can.  It’s a lesson in mortality for all of us.

At the stroke of 9:45, mom, my son and I all dressed and ready to go, head out for our Mother’s Day brunch.  We had a lovely time, ate a modest plate of breakfast food, even if all kinds of other foods were being offered, and then we left.  My mother kept insisting the host was Greek and had to be the owner.  As usual, her words of wisdom and knowledge kept my son and I highly entertained.  I was so proud of my son for putting up with his mother and grandmother.  He takes it all in stride, does what he has to do and stays in good graces always, even if it kills him.  Mom announced her feet were killing her and she’d like to stop home to change her shoes.  After a quick change of shoes, a quick bite for the dog, mom and I head out as Jeff prepared for his 2:00 softball game.  Mom and I spent several hours shopping and I could see her wearing down on the way home.  She needed to rest, but she wanted to play in the garden.  My dog was full of energy when we arrived home so I suggested mom rest while I hike the dog.  The weather had turned very hot and Lizzie joyfully spent time darting in and out of the water’s edge as we hiked along the trail.   A hurricane must have come through my house while I was hiking for my kitchen was a total disaster when I returned home.  Yes, Hurricane Mary had hit again.  I cleaned up the kitchen as mom’s footprints suggested mom was playing in the garden. I looked out to see her doing what she loves best, planting her seedlings.

Mom was overwhelmed with the cards, flowers and gifts from Jeff and I.  In fact, a friend of mine sent home a card and candy for mom as well.  Thoughtful, as always, he never forgets her.  Mom kept apologizing for not being able to find the Mother’s Day card she bought for me earlier in the week.  I couldn’t help but think of the irony of her buying me a card when she wasn’t even talking to me.  I told her not to worry about it.  She was adamant about it and finally I told her that a card didn’t really matter to me.  I made a sweeping gesture from her head to toe and told her This is what matter’s to meYou being happy and enjoying yourself.  Cards are very nice, but I will take you like this over a card any day.”  As she turned to go upstairs, I was sure I saw a happy tear roll down her cheek.  I opted to let it go because I knew if I said anything, she’d cry more and ruin her makeup.  She was cheerful the rest of the day, coming up and down, in and out, I was happy we were all having a good day.

As the day turned into night, I thought back of all the rocks I moved the day before.  I realized then, they were all just preparation for the mountain I would move on Mother’s Day.

Princess Thursday !

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Could she be any cuter?

Flash

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My brother once told me that animals let you know when it’s time.  For me, it was the pleading look my dog gave me after being sick for two years.  It was time.

Although a gallant attempt was made to rid Flash of bone cancer, or at least make him comfortable, he let it be known, today was the day.

Flash, my brother and Jodi’s dog, passed peacefully today in the arms of those who love him.  He will be forever missed and fondly remembered.

May 16, 2005  –  May 10, 2012

No Reason…

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As the week drones on with welcomed rain pelting the pavement, my thoughts are in overdrive thinking of the weekend.  There’s so many things I want to do, and so little time to do them.  I will squeeze in a project with the hopes of finishing it and give mom an afternoon of visiting with family, out to dinner and happily exhaust her.

My job has taken on a new spin that keeps me very busy.  This time of year the office, a renovated mini-mall, is clammy and hot and you can see how uncomfortable everyone is just by the look on their faces.  I constantly look out the window and remind myself the only thing between me and fresh air is a thick pane of glass.  At any time of day you can see our one and only maintenance man, Matt, working the meticulously kept lawns, flowers, bushes and trees.  I always tell him he’s got the best job in the whole company.  He always agrees with me.  In the winter, he shovels the walkways and keeps them ice-free so we don’t slip.  The parking lot is maintained by a large snow-plow company and Matt is usually out there cleaning up the small strips of snow that form between the plow blades.  When it’s been snowing all day long, it’s not uncommon to find that Matt has cleaned the snow off of your car while you stressed about it all day at your desk.  In the spring, you can find Matt manning a detour around a small pond on the grounds that are home to baby Canadian Geese every year.  As they grow, you can see Matt unsuccessfully trying to keep them from running in the parking lot.  It’s quite entertaining to see the momma geese nipping at his ass while he directs traffic away from the chicks.  Then there is the yearly email that he sends out warning about the chicks in the parking lot.  Matt is an Arborist.  He is totally into Mother Earth and all she has to offer.  He told me he’s been studying plant and marine life his whole life.  Matt has a PhD in Horticulture and is a certified Arborist.  He’s been at the company for over 15 years, single-handedly making the place look like something out of Better Homes and Garden magazine.  Matt has given me many tips about plants over the years.  He even came to my house once to check the soil and sun rotation around my property when I purchased ornamental grasses to plant.  He instructed me which ones would do best based on the soil type, sun and shade.  The grasses are doing outstanding, thanks to Matt!

Then there’s the diverse collection of people inside.  Being a sales call-center you can imagine the energy that erupts each day on the sales floor, whether it be a big win, or a big loss, everyone feels it.  The newbies come in full of hopes and dreams of snagging a big whale, while the Veteran’s size them up and know right off the bat if they’ll be successful or not.  Sales is not a job, it’s an art, a craft, a mindset.  Anything that’s not a YES, is an opportunity.  In sales, NO is not an option, although you will hear it often.

Every now and then you come across someone who isn’t caught up in the sales hype.  Ken is just keeping up with his quotas, not letting the stress get to him.  He’s a happy-go-lucky kind of guy who makes everyone smile with a joke or a kind word.  Today, while closing a sale, he came up behind me and dropped a perfect rose on my desk.  I turned around to see who dropped it, (and why), and there was Ken standing behind me with a handful of single roses he was passing out on the sales floor.

His simple gesture speaks volumes about him.  When I gave him a questioning look, he simply smiled and said… “no reason”, and went on his merry way.

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